Iraq has stationed thousands of troops in the disputed oil-rich province of Kirkuk to exert pressure on the autonomous Kurdistan region, which voted for independence in a referendum held late September.
Kirkuk, where Iraq's first wells were spudded is at the heart of the dispute between the federal government at Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government.
Following the referendum for independence, Baghdad has ordered the repair of a pipeline transporting Kirkuk crude to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. The pipeline has a capacity of 150,000 barrels a day (b/d).
Nearly 85 per cent of the 650,000 barrels a day of Kurdish crude output finds a passage through Turkey to export markets.
The office of the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi published a note following the referendum urging neighbouring countries - in a reference to Turkey - not to buy Kurdish crude and deal exclusively with the federal government at Baghdad.
According to reports, Kurdish forces had in turn amassed by their thousands in Kirkuk and had as of 14 October refused to leave their posts from the province.
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